There is a beautiful legend about the star in the East. It is said that when the star had finished directing the wise men to the baby Jesus, it fell from the sky and dropped down into the city well of Bethlehem. According to some, the star is there to this day, and can sometimes still be seen by those whose hearts are pure and clean.

This is a pretty story. It stirs the imagination and makes the heart feel warm.

There are other legends associated with the first Noel. There is the story of three wise men from the east bringing gifts to Jesus on the night of His birth in a stable. According to legend, Melchior was the oldest of the group, with a full beard. He gave the baby Jesus the gift of gold. Gold is a proper gift for a king. Balthasar also had a beard, but he was not as old as Melchior. Balthasar presented the gift of myrrh, an ointment people put on bodies that were going to be buried. The baby in the cradle was destined to die for sinners as a perfect Saviour. He was the Lamb of God that came to take away the sin of the world. Where else but in a stable could the Lamb have been born? The youngest of the three was Casper, who had no beard yet, but did present the gift of frankincense to the baby who was Immanuel, God with us. Frankincense was a spice used when people worshipped God. Legend says after seeing the baby, the three wise men continued traveling as far as Spain, telling the world the good news about what they had seen.

The problem with legends is that sometimes they add details to stories that do not need any additional detail. It is not good to ban legends, but it is worthwhile to hear the true story of Christmas afresh, the way it was told the first time.

“Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, 2 Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him. 3 When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. 4 And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born. 5 And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judaea: for thus it is written by the prophet, 6 And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel. 7 Then Herod, when he had privily called the wise men, inquired of them diligently what time the star appeared. 8 And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, Go and search diligently for the young child; and when ye have found him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship him also. 9 When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was. 10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy. 11 And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh. 12 And being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way.” (Matt. 2:1-12)

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